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Re: "Pre-Engineered" Metal Buildings

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> From: "T. Eric Gillham PE" <teric(--nospam--at)>

> I would like some opinions on the stamping of so called "pre-engineered"
> metal buildings, particularly in the case where the manufacturer does not
> have a registered engineer in the locale where the building will be
> constructed.
> My take on it is that there are no "pre" engineered structures --> all
> buildings are (or should be) engineered, it is only a question of who does
> the design work.  If it were possible to pre-engineer a building, then one
> could have a "pre"-engineered 40 storey R/C SMRF building, not just a 1
> storey metal frame building.
> Does anyone have any comments, preferably experience based, as to how their
> local building depts handle such structures that are not stamped by an
> engineer licensed in their juridiction?  Do the manufacturer's just get the
> plans rubber stamped (not an option for our office), or is some sort of
> exception made for that class of structure?  Or are ALL structures
> considered to be subject to the same rules and regs?

Once upon a time ...
pre-engineered buildings were exactly that ... pre-engineered. One could
take a catalogue, select from the standard components, standard
dimensions and standard load sets and have the building delivered to
site - the plans were simply taken off the shelf and copied. The
engineering responsibility would be borne by the specifying engineer and
the manufacturer accepted responsibility for the quality of the product
(to the extent that the product was engineered to be suitable for
certain loads) but the design would not be specifically qualified for a
particular location.

Now, they are more correctly called metal buildings or something equally
vague. There are many aspects to them that are still designed as part of
a system of components and this would still qualify them as
pre-engineered. However, it is probable that, in the interest of
economy, the building is engineered to your exact specifications. It is
the responsibility of the purchaser or EOR to negotiate the issue, and
cost, of seal by local licensee on behalf of the manufacturer or EOR.
The metal building manufacturer will never (never say never) act as EOR
on a project and, therefore, will not necessarily provide a set of
drawings with a local licensee's seal.

Major metal building manufacturers will have staff designers supporting
licenses for virtually any location in North America.  In this case,
your cost for this convenience is already built into the overhead on the
building cost.

Some manufacturers will arrange for the designs to be stamped by an
external engineer with the appropriate license. There is a certain
amount of rubber-stamping that occurs as a result of this practice.

Otherwise, the EOR will have to do the legwork to be comfy with the
design and seal it themself. If you don't have significant metal
building design experience, you don't want to get into that time drain.

I have never encountered a building district that accepts metal building
plans without the appropriate seal. I've never heard of any sealed metal
building drawings turned down because they might have been
rubber-stamped. I do know of significant cases where rubber-stamping
metal building designs has been identified and caused previous projects
to be reviewed.

Bottom-line: Deal with a reputable manufacturer who is willing to
provide the locally sealed drawings as standard operating procedure -
preferably by a staff engineer.

R. Paul Ransom, P. Eng.
Burlington, Ontario, Canada
<mailto:ado26(--nospam--at)> <>

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